George Mason Memorial, Washington DC

masonOften considered a forgotten Founding Father, Virginia statesman and plantation owner George Mason was an influential participant in the fight for American independence.

His Virginia Declaration of Rights, written in 1776, was the foundation upon which the American Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776, was crafted. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington credited his influence, with Thomas Jefferson calling him “the wisest man of his generation.” ….

Despite his keen interest in the founding documents of the young United States, Mason left the Constitutional Convention in 1787, refusing to sign the document when representatives failed to prohibit the continued importation of slaves or to guarantee individual liberties dearly won during the Revolutionary War. He reconciled shortly before his death with Constitution authors after the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1791.

Mason’s memorial is strongly influenced by the architecture and landscape of his home, Gunston Hall Plantation in Fairfax County, Virginia. Mason oversaw all aspects of his home’s construction, which still stands as a testament to mid-18th-century Georgian style.

Seated on a marble bench surrounded by walls bearing quotations from his Declaration of Rights and other correspondence, a bronze statue of Mason leans on one arm, a small stack of books by his side, and one in his hand. A finger holds his place in the book, Cicero’s De Officiis, as if he has just paused to either think about what he has read, or to oberve the view. The other two books are by Enlightenment philosophers John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. A hat and cane rest against the bench’s seat. Overhead, a pergola shades him from the sun’s heat.

A small round pool occupies the center of the memorial, surrounded by a paved walkway and low plantings of flowers.

Congress authorized the memorial for Mason in 1990 to be developed by the board of regents at Gunston Hall. Sculptor Wendy M. Ross, who had already sculpted Mason for the campus of George Mason University, was chosen to create the seated statesman. Construction started in October 2000, and the memorial was dedicated on April 9, 2002.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.